Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s The Spectator and The Tatler: Birth of Modern Story and Art of Characterization

Stories are of abiding interest in our modern day life and while talking about the birth of modern short story or novel, we cannot miss the immortal character sketches of The Tatler and The Spectator essays. Notably, these types of tales had continued to appear in the centuries that preceded throughout the world literature. Read More Essay Ishap’s Tales, Yataka’s Tales, Arabian Nights, Decameron or even Canterury Tales is more or less same in the genre. One source of such stories was the 18th-century English magazine The Tatler and The Spectator, where editors Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele published many semi-fictional sketches of contemporary character types. Now, we will shift our discussion on these periodicals for their merits of literature. 

Addison went to the famous Charterhouse School in London, where he met Steele. When the Whigs returned to power he regained political favour, and his writings on public matters won him great advancement He raised rapidly. Read More Essay Addison had become a frequent contributor to Steele’s The Tatler in 1709 by the eighty-first number of the paper, and had been responsible to a large extent for making the essay the most important constituent of the periodical. In fact, in addition to his own essays, Steele published in the Tatler a number of papers by the English essayist Joseph Addison, whom he had met during his school days and who became an important colleague and friend.  Read More History of English Literature (Essay) This publication was succeeded on March 1, 1711, by the more famous Spectator with both Steele and Addison as contributors. Unlike The Tatler in which social scandals, city gossip and foreign news claimed the reader’s attention, The Spectator was to be a number of literary pamphlets concerned only with morals and manners. The essays that appeared in The Spectator and particularly in the Coverley Papers have rightly been called ‘the first masterpieces of humanized Puritanism.’
 The Tatler paper contained not only political news, but also gossip from the clubs and coffee houses, with some light essays on the life and manners of the age. Of the 271 numbers that appeared Steele wrote the entire contents of 190 and Addison of 42, while 36 were written in collaboration. Addison was the senior partner in The Spectator and produced 274 of its 555 members to Steele’s 240. Read More Essay Mixing politics, serious essays, and sly satire, the 18th-century periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator, founded by the statesmen and literary figures Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, were enormously popular and influential. Read More History of English Literature (Essay) The Tatler and The Spectator provide an entertaining and historically invaluable picture of 18th-century London life, both high and low- its fashion, manners, dressing, conversational style, jokes etc. 

The primary concern of both Addison and Steele was to launch, through the periodicals, a moral and educational programme for the post-Restoration English society. Both believed in educating the people through entertainment, their endeavor being ‘to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.’ Read More History of English Literature This led to the creation of the fictitious Spectator Club, and its members—Sir Andrew, Will Honeycomb, Captain Sentry and, of course, Sir Roger de Coverley. They both highlighted the coffee house culture which had become the hub of the social and cultural life of England. Read More Essay A new breed of serious-minded, progressive citizens of the capital started receiving the education of the reformation of manners through the middle- course- neither harsh nor soft. Both Addison and Steele enjoyed immense popularity because they had delivered the tastes arid requirements of the new and increasing middle-class readership. Though they were content to follow the public opinions of the coffee houses, Steele and Addison, particularly latter’s contributions are a turning point in the history of the essay. Read More Essay Again, ‘Spectator Papers” is compared with “Character Writing,” of past writers. But, the greatest value of this document is that the concept of novel, first truly came from it. Read More History of English Literature  The description of Sir Roger is mostly identified with modern novel. Again, this writing greatly contributed to the development of English prose style.
Something must be said at this point about the social milieu in which the former i. e. Steele was writing. By the time Steele entered the English literary scene; the civil war of 1688 had done away with the nobility and conferred upon the middle-class a political importance. Until then the citizens of London had been more or less governed by the narrow and rigid standards of the middle Ages. Now, for the first time, the town had rejected the court’s standards in morals and manners and was compelled to define its own social and ethical codes. Read More History of English Literature  To do this, however, they needed to be educated and enlightened about how to conduct them.
While Steele was the more imaginative of the two and constantly thought of new ways to insinuate moral and other lessons under the guise of entertainment, it was Addison who developed many of these devices to ultimate perfection. Read More Essay Though Sir Roger was first sketched by Steele, he is in the main Addison’s creation. Addison possessed a keen sense of humour and a remarkable insight into character. These gifts united to produce what can be considered his greatest achievement—the character of Sir Roger.
Macaulay justly summed up Addison’s qualities when he said; ‘It was due above all to the greatest satirist who alone knew to use ridicule without abusing it, who without inflicting a wound, affected a great social reform and who reconciled wit and virtue, after a long and disastrous separation, during which wit had been led astray by profligacy and virtue by fanaticism.’
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